Where is that drink taking you?
We all know that a healthy lifestyle involves drinking alcohol in moderation, if at all. However, many are unaware of the effect that alcohol can have on your weight.
Are you getting frustrated with eating healthily and exercising but still not seeing the weight come off? Your alcohol intake may be what’s weighing you down- literally. Don’t worry, we’re not about to tell you must cut out all alcohol- That would be plain cruel. What we are going to do is dispel some of the myths around alcohol and allow you to make informed choices about how much alcohol you drink.
Dietitians refer to alcohol as providing “empty” kilojoules or energy. This is because alcohol is high in kilojoules (energy) but extremely low in other nutrients. The high kilojoule content is not helped by the fact that kilojoules in drink-form are less filling than foods, so you don't feel full, even if you may have had almost half a days calorie intake over a 'drinking session'!
So how many kilojoules are in alcohol? For you calorie counters out there is 29 kilojoules per gram of alcohol. And in easy-to-understand terms;
How much energy is in that drink?
One glass of standard beer (250ml) = 380kJ
One glass of soft drink (230ml) = 345 - 450kJ
One glass of white wine (100ml) = 345 - 395kJ
One glass of red wine (100ml) = 340 - 365kJ
One nip of spirits (70 proof, 20 ml)= 175kJ
One glass low alcohol beer (250ml)= 100kJ
One glass “diet” soft drink mixer (230ml)5
How big is that glass?
The scary thing is that these are typical bar measures, which are often a lot less than we would consider a serve to be. Spirits are generally served as a double (two nips). A 100ml glass of wine would mean that out of every bottle 7 1/2 glasses would be poured. And if you are a spirit drinker it is likely that your double nip is mixed with a high-kilojoule mixer.
Alcohol and your weight
Lets paint a picture…After a long day of work you take off your shoes, feeling very proud that you managed to get up early in the morning to go for a walk and also chose a salad for lunch, and then decide to relax with a couple of wines. Most New Zealanders pour around 150ml glasses of wine. Say you have just two of these over dinner and throughout the evening. You have consumed around 1084 kilojoules, which is the same as;
- One chocolate-coated ice cream
- One slice of pizza
- One McDonald’s hamburger
My guess is that many of you are making healthy food choices and are unlikely to follow your dinner and/or desert with one of these options. Say you do this every week night a year that is contributing to an extra 9kgs of body weight per year!
So now that you know that alcohol may be affecting your weight, what ways can you continue to enjoy a casual drink and maintain a healthy weight?
Tips to help manage your weight if you drink alcohol:
- If drinking spirits choose a “diet” mixer.
- Alternate your alcoholic drinks with a glass of water. This will slow you down and also help with the hangover.
- When pouring wine aim to get at least 5 glasses out of a bottle.
- When drinking beer choose low-alcohol varieties.
- Consume no more than two “standard” drinks a day, or 14 a week for women or no more than three a day, or 21 a week for men.
- Relax with a refreshing non-alcohol beverage instead. This also saves you money!
A healthy lifestyle is all about balance. Alcohol is ok to enjoy in moderation- just don’t forget that drinking too much of it may be what’s weighing you down.